Home Articles Veterinary medicine Articles Veterinarian
In American and Canadian English, a veterinarian
(from Latin veterinae, "draught animals") is an animal
doctor, a practitioner of veterinary medicine. The equivalent
term in British English is veterinary surgeon, and both terms
are often shortened to vet. The word veterinarian was first
used in English by the doctor Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682).
Perhaps the most popular depiction of this
kind of doctor at work is in the autobiographical books by James
Herriot and the television adaptation, All Creatures Great and
Overview of the Veterinary Profession
A veterinarian is not only an animal doctor,
however. While a veterinarian does hold a doctoral degree in
veterinary medicine (in the USA, at least), not all veterinarians
enter clinical practice. Those that do still have a wide range
of options: companion animal or "pet" medicine (dogs,
cats, rabbits, ferrets, etc), "exotic" animal medicine
(various rodents, sugar gliders, possums, hedgehogs, reptiles),
reptile medicine, ratite medicine, livestock medicine, equine
medicine (sports or race track or show or rodeo, etc.), or laboratory
animal medicine, to name a few. Those who do not may enter a
research field, studying an area of medical, veterinary medical,
or pharmacological research. Research veterinarians were the
first to isolate oncoviruses, Salmonella species, Brucella species,
and various other pathogenic agents. They also helped conquer
malaria and yellow fever, solved the mystery of botulism, produced
an anticoagulant used to treat some people with heart disease,
and defined and developed surgical techniques for humans, such
as hip-joint replacement and limb and organ transplants.
Like all physicians, veterinarians must make
ethical judgments, such as whether or not to perform debarking
Some veterinarians work in a field called
regulatory medicine - ensuring the nation's food safety by working
with the USDA FSIS, or protecting us from imported exotic animal
diseases by working for the USDA APHIS. The emerging field of
conservation medicine involves veterinarians even more directly
with human health care, providing a multidisciplinary approach
to medical research that also involves environmental scientists.
More than 3800 veterinarians in the USA currently
work at veterinary schools, teaching student vets what they
need to know to graduate - so teaching is another career path.
Public health medicine is another option for
veterinarians. Veterinarians in government and private laboratories
provide diagnostic and testing services. Some veterinarians
serve as state epidemiologists, directors of environmental health,
and directors of state or city public health departments. Veterinarians
are also employed by the US Agriculture Research Service, Fish
and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency, National
Library of Medicine, and National Institutes of Health. The
military also employs veterinarians in a number of capacities
- caring for pets on military bases, caring for military working
animals, and controlling various arthropod-borne diseases or
other such of things.
Veterinary Informatics is the application
of information technology to healthcare.
Most vet clinics now utilize software for Practice
Management Systems to control scheduling and billing of clients,
tracking of inventory and automation of lab results.
Addiitonally, many clinics are working towards
becoming computerized for electronic patient records.